Criminal Justice Schools by State

Terrorism in Washington, D.C.

Ashburn, Virginia is a suburban city about 30 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. Ashburn is home to the Washington Redskins training camp, thousands of residents, schools, playgrounds and businesses. It is a diverse community in which you can see residents walking around at dusk, hear the squeals of children playing and generally feel safe and secure. With the proximity to Washington, D.C., Ashburn is a desired place to live and raise a family and people from all over the world have moved to Ashburn to enjoy the life of the D.C. commuter.

dc metroRecently, a plot to bomb the D.C. Metro System was uncovered by The Department of Homeland Security. The suspect involved is a man who called Ashburn home, a naturalized citizen who lived just like all of the other Ashburn residents, with one horrific exception: the man wanted to plant bombs in four different D.C. Metro Stations. Due to the vigilance and knowledge of the FBI and their non-stop commitment to ensuring the safety and security of the population, the man was caught and is now in prison, held without bail, for the role he played in this potentially catastrophic terrorist attack.

It is threats like the D.C. Metro Bomb Plot that calls for special law enforcement and investigative training and education like Homeland Security in order to track terrorists and criminals and thwart their plans before those plans become a reality. The D.C. Metro bomb plot is not the only terrorist threat that has been stopped recently. There was also the failed Times Square car bomb plot in May, 2010, as well as incidents in Dallas, Texas, and Springfield, Illinois. More than 60 U.S. citizens have been charged or convicted in terrorism cases since last year.

While Ashburn remains a healthy community, and people are still out walking their dogs and playing at the playgrounds, the community’s shock over the D.C. Metro bomb plot is felt by its residents, as well as residents surrounding the community, and of course, people who depend on The Metro for transportation. Keeping communities like Ashburn, as well as the rest of the country safe from terrorist threats is an important job that requires the right education, training and abilities.

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Secret Service Agents

The Secret Service Agency was founded in 1865 in response to financial fraud and crimes including counterfeit money. Fraud and financial crime is different picture from the action-packed assumption that Secret Service agents are human bulletproof vests for the President, Vice President, their families and other political figures. Secret Service agents must enjoy a wide range of jobs within the agency that vary from computer-based investigations, personal interviews with victims and possible perpetrators of crime to the actual protection of political figures. Even in securing the safety of political figures, the job itself may be less-exciting than what is depicted in movies or seen in the news.

Secret Service agents do more than protect the lives of the leaders of our country. Some agents are tasked to stick to the agency’s roots by protecting the country’s financial infrastructure through the investigation of credit card fraud, bank fraud and identity theft, within the United States and globally. Secret Service agent jobs are based on standards of law enforcement and investigation, making it necessary for all agents to have a background in criminal justice, including cyber security, computer forensics or criminology. Many agents start off with four-year degrees in law enforcement and gain real-world experience through police departments or other criminal investigation institutions.

More commonly known, Secret Service agents protect our prominent political figures and may even be responsible for ensuring the security of visiting heads of state. All agents need to fulfill certain physical requirements in order to be considered for the job. The application process itself may take months to complete. There are numerous background checks, interviews and testing that must take place. No applicant can be over the age of 37, and all applicants must pass the screenings, exams, polygraphs and drug tests. Applicants must also be able to prove they are physically able to perform the functions of the job, and are required to attend an eight-week training camp in which they are physically tested and given intense physical training in order to begin their jobs. If new agents make it through the first year, they are more likely to be accepted as permanent Secret Service Agents.

It may be surprising to many people that fraud and counterfeiting crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the Secret Service agency, but in the matter of protecting our national security, it makes sense that our financial resources are just as vulnerable as our political figures. A career as a Secret Service agent may have you protecting the life of the President, or stopping the financial destruction of the country. All agents perform important jobs vital to the security of our nation, keeping criminals from causing harm to our lives and liberty.

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U.S. Postal Inspectors

U.S. Postal Inspectors are law enforcement officials who are tasked with the protection of the U.S. Postal Service, its employees and its customers from criminal attack, and protect the nation’s mail system from criminal misuse. Other responsibilities may include mail fraud, child pornography, homeland security, drug and illegal substances, and more. It is a highly competitive federal position with demanding physical requirements, including a cutoff for application by age 37. The job of the U.S. Postal Inspector may have certain requirements for travel as well as hours outside of a typical 9-5 schedule.

Beyond mail fraud, other jobs tasked to the United States Postal Inspection Service include fake checks, cross-border fraud, Internet and telemarketing fraud and foreign lottery and work-at-home scams. The position of U.S. Postal Inspector may go beyond the idea of inspecting packages for drugs or other illegal materials, but has grown into a full-service position of fighting those who would perpetuate fraud from behind their keyboards or phones.

u.s. postal inspectorsBecoming a U.S. Postal Inspector is a rigorous process. Beyond the physical requirements, it is mandatory that you have a four-year degree, particularly in law enforcement, as well as experience with foreign languages, computers, the military or the postal service. You must also have no felony convictions on your criminal record and any misdemeanor offenses in domestic violence will automatically disqualify you from the position. The openings for U.S. Postal Inspector positions may be hard to find, as they are only published during “open season” recruitment. Vigilance in applying for these positions is important in order to secure your ability to complete the entire application process.

U.S. Postal Inspectors may not have a typical law enforcement job, but they experience above-normal levels of law enforcement experience as they fight various types of fraud and criminals who use the U.S. Postal Service to bring illegal substances and materials into the country. The physical, experience and education requirements needed by U.S. Postal Inspectors define the impact of this job and the safety it provides to all citizens.

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Homeland Security and Facebook

With social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr gaining more users each day, the government has taken notice of the ease with which people are sharing private and intimate moments of their lives with friends, family members and sometimes, even strangers. These moments can sometimes be used by government agencies and officials to keep track of the motivations behind what people are doing offline, in their real lives, and if these people are compromising our security or skirting laws, The Department of Homeland Security will likely find out.

Facebook monitored by homeland securityOnline privacy concerns are in the headlines regarding how much information major social networking sites are sharing with corporations, other social network members, or the general public. People are being fired from jobs, or not being hired at all, for their online depictions of offline behaviors. It seems that the members of these sites are more than willing to create post after post (or Tweet!) about the details of their lives without regard for how much of their information is actually available to law enforcement and Homeland Security officials. The government has taken notice of this ease with which people trust the ubiquitous cyberspace and have been monitoring people’s online activity, even going as far as “friending” people online, in order to monitor their day-to-day lives and find reasons to pursue criminal charges for anything from marriage and immigration fraud to threats against major events, such as the 2010 Olympics.

The Department of Homeland Security has taken on much of the work with monitoring these social networking websites. In terms of protecting the security of the country, and with the increase in online activity and the ability to focus on potential criminals and threats, the government may need more people with degrees in law enforcement or Homeland Security to take on the increased workload stemming from the social networking monitoring. Whether you feel it is fair or not that the government is using an innocent means of communication in order to target potential threats or criminals, the fact remains that in the long run, these activities can benefit our safety.

It is said that nothing on the Internet is private. Computer and network hacking, phishing, and other unethical practices that involve compromising people’s private information are still concerning, even as information is leaked through social networking channels. But, the best way to protect private information is to keep it private, online or offline, and keep your own social networking profile and life as uncontroversial as possible.

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Criminal Profiling

Crime scene investigation has more value beyond determining the events or victims of a crime. Much of the evidence that is collected from a crime scene, or the actual crime scene itself, can be used in order to develop a criminal profile of the perpetrator of the crime being investigated. Criminal profiling is the application of psychological data gathered from crime scene investigation used to define who a potential perpetrator of crime may be.

criminal profilingCriminal profilers are experts in psychology, psychiatry or criminology that are able to see beyond the clues left at crime scenes and develop a personality profile based on common types of criminals and criminal acts. The criminal profile helps narrow down the search for suspects based upon age, gender, race and sometimes specific details, such as background, education and physical features. Simply stated, a criminal may be labeled as organized, disorganized, or mixed (a combination of organized and disorganized) and from those labels, the criminal profiler can begin to define the type of person who committed the crime, and if a series of crimes have been committed, the profile can connect evidence or habits between the crimes.

Education and experience are both important when seeking a career as a Criminal Profiler. Law enforcement experience and an education in psychology and/or criminology are all helpful, as are studies in crime scene investigation, sociology, victimology and crisis intervention. Criminal profilers are able to take evidence and crime scene findings and put them together in order to form a realistic picture of the person, or people, who have committed the crime in question. From this profile, law enforcement officers can better track down the criminal and help bring her or him to justice before more crimes are committed.

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Ethics for Legal Assistants

Paralegals and Legal Assistants have the ability and education to perform certain legal functions and duties under the supervision of an attorney. When working within the legal field, there are countless directives and rules that govern the way lawyers, legal assistants and paralegals must act in the best interests of their clients. Ethics are of the utmost concern, as a legal representative’s actions may have a strong influence on the outcome of a court case and whether or not justice is properly served.

legal assistant paralegalMany of these ethical requirements for paralegals and legal assistants are defined by the NALA (National Associal for Legal Assistants) and follow the ethical codes that apply to lawyers. Paralegals and Legal Assistants must always disclose their status as a paralegal or legal assistant, and must adhere to all aspects of attorney-client privilege. Paralegals may perform tasks delegated by an attorney but ultimately, the responsibility for those actions lays with the attorney in charge of the legal case.

Beyond the guidelines set forth by NALA, there are also special considerations that paralegals and legal assistants much keep in mind when communicating through the Internet or by cellular or mobile phones. Since many states may consider the legal advice given online as the establishment of a legal representation by an attorney, it is imperative that caution is taken when communicating outside of the attorney’s office. Other issues, especially privacy concerns, are also needed to keep under consideration, since electronic communication can be easily intercepted, either online or via mobile technologies and phones. For instance, Massachusetts prohibits sending e-mails to a client’s work address without the express consent of the client, since employers have the legal right to review employee messages.

Paralegals and legal assistants are able to perform many of the functions of licensed attorneys, but must always adhere to the guidelines set forth by their education, employer and their state. Following these guidelines will best serve clients and maintain the sanctity of the legal system.

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Forensic Photography

If a picture says a thousand words, then imagine what a picture can say about a crime scene. Police and forensic photography is a specialized skill of a crime scene investigation trained police officer. It can be useful in crime scene investigation as it documents the crime scene itself, as well as a way to document evidence retrieved from not only the actual crime scene itself, but also from areas in which weapons or other clues may have been found.

Forensic photography is more than just snapping photos of evidence, and it is much less artistic than typical photography. Visual skills are required in order to properly portray things like distance and angles. The ability to remain objective and unemotional is needed, as well, as a forensic photographer may be required to photograph victims of crime or corpses and the destruction that may be left behind after a crime has been committed. A forensic photographer may also need to document evidence like gunshot wounds, bite marks, trace evidence and autopsies.

Forensic photographers may also be required to testify in court about the evidence they documented. Certification in forensic photography is needed after completing basic police training in order to qualify as a forensic photographer. A forensic photographer plays an important role in any crime scene investigation, and the photographs they take may help solve crimes immediately or in the future as technology and police investigation catch up to the criminals on the loose.

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October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. In a joint venture sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and The Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center as well as many other companies and organizations, local and online events are being held in order to educate the public about how to stay safe while online.

Events include presentations about home network security, online predators and sexting, phishing, gaming, social networking and how to keep your online privacy intact. With the rise of computer and Internet use in the home and at work, crimes and breaches of security are occurring at a faster rate than ever. National Cyber Security Awareness month intends to arm people and businesses with the knowledge needed in order to protect their interests and help stop the crimes from happening.

Cyber security professionals are encouraged to attend and sponsor events in their own areas, as well, educating their communities about the different problems that may arise from online criminals and how to keep their families and personal and business information safe. Keeping the public safe from cyber crimes is imperative today and will bring peace and security to businesses, organizations and the public in the future.

The NCSA recommends the following basic tasks to protect yourself online:

  • Employ comprehensive security suites that include anti-virus, firewall, anti-Spyware and anti-Spam software. Most importantly, set your security software to automatically update.

  • Back up your files and data on a regular basis to mitigate any losses in the event of a security failure.

  • Only use secure wireless connections that require passwords or other forms of security.

Take the time this month to learn the best practices of online safety and be sure to check for local events that you can attend in order to best protect yourself, your business and your children from the crimes that may be committed in cyberspace.

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How to Start a Private Investigation Business

There are many different jobs for private investigators within businesses and organizations that can bring job security and career satisfaction, but many private investigators want the freedom that can come with owning and running their own business. Like many other types of businesses, a private investigation business can be a challenging endeavor for the person without any experience, but it may also be the best way for a private investigator to establish financial security and career satisfaction.

detective hatTo establish your private investigator business, it is recommended that you first research the state and local requirements needed in order to fulfill your licensing requirements. Obtaining the private investigation license should be your next step, followed by ensuring you have received the best training possible, including training with firearms and other forms of personal protection. Run a background check on yourself in case clients want to know your own criminal history. Consult an attorney for any legal issues regarding your state laws and business start-ups, and consider the advertising possibilities of websites, business cards, newspapers and other media venues.

Starting up a business, regardless of the field or industry, can be a big step for anyone. Private investigators have industry-specific criteria that must be fulfilled in order to legally investigate or consult. Be sure to adhere to all local and state laws when starting up your private detective business and watch as clients come to you with their investigatory needs.

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Cyber Bullying

When kids get bullied on a school bus or at school, there are ways to keep a bully from continuing his or her threatening behavior by alerting school authorities and becoming involved in the education that concerns bullying. When bullying goes from the playground or school hallways into the online world in which many tweens and teens socialize, there are less ways to protect them but the results of online bullying can be just as harmful as “real life” bullying.

With any bullying, the best prevention is parental involvement including knowing where your child is socializing online, to monitoring their activity directly. Recently, a California court ruled that online bullying is not protected by free speech, a favorite argument that is presented when bullies are confronted with their own words that have been captured through computers or cell phones. The abundance of ways in which children may be protected, however, are only as good as the knowledge and interest of their parents or caretakers. Many of these tactics include knowing where the child is socializing online and monitoring that activity, blocking websites, keeping a computer in a central location to visually monitor activity or even taking away cell phone access at bedtime. If a parent is still confused about how to best keep the bullies out of their child’s online life, they can consult a computer security professional for tips and strategies.

Taking away a bully’s ability to harm another is a big step in preventing online bullying. Its important to respect your child’s privacy, but when a problem presents itself, its time to act and take control of the situation before anything detrimental happens. With the recent news of a suicide related to cyber bullying, it is imperative that parents and caregivers take control over their children's exposure to online social networks and websites, protect them, and teach them that they have ways of getting the harassment to stop.

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